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Understanding interaction through boundary objects: how digitalization affects activity coordination


Vincent Fremont, Jens Eklinder Frick, Lars-Johan Åge and Aihie Osarenkhoe

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.


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This study focuses on analysing interaction processes and their effects on activity coordination through the lens of boundary objects. The empirical setting is organizations that are trying to enhance their competitive advantage by technological innovation and the use of big data. During the process of data collection at two organizations, five different boundary objects were identified. The study illustrates how these boundary objects were characterized by the respondents in terms of their modularity, standardization, abstractness and tangibility. This paper provides an analysis of how the respondents perceived that the development and management of these boundary objects affected activity links, and the resulting changes and frictions. The analysis thus indicates that the way individuals perceive the boundary objects are central to the interaction processes and, moreover, those perceptions set the tone for how such interaction processes develop over time. This study also contributes to the field of industrial marketing and purchasing by addressing the cognitive dimensions of interactions by analysing how activity links are being viewed by the involved actors based on their perceptions of the boundary objects.

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